According to a study conducted by the Natural Link Mold Lab (NLML), Reno, Nev., bed bugs can carry potentially life-threatening bacteria. The study collected several groups of bed bugs gathered from geographically diverse locations. Employing cultures, incubators and petri dishes, the bedbugs were examined for the presence of microbial vectors, including bacteria and yeasts, which were carried by the insects, primarily on their surfaces.

The research documented bed bugs’ ability to transfer live Staphylococcus aureus (staph) cells from a culture to a sterile plate, demonstrating their potential as a bacterial vector.  These findings support a different study that detected drug-resistant staphylococcal bacteria (MRSA) in bed bugs. There is the potential that bacteria could be transferred from bed bugs to humans.

“While a bed bug doesn’t inject its saliva into the host as does a mosquito, its mandibles act like a pair of sharp forceps, piercing and tearing the skin, so the potential exists for surface bacteria to enter through the bite,” said Sean Abbott, Ph.D., senior biologist for NLML, in a news release. “This evidence underscores the urgency for employing effective solutions against the pathogens sooner rather than later.”

The study also found that heat was the best result in killing both the bed bugs and bacteria.